The independent Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), one of the co-sponsors of next week's Collaborate '06 Oracle users conference in Nashville, plans to kick of the show with news of two new OAUG member forums designed to serve as best practice repositories for Oracle business applications users.
SearchOracle.com caught up with Steven Hughes, executive director of the OAUG, to learn more about the new user forums and also to get a preview of what's happening at next week's Collaborate conference from a business applications perspective. Hughes also talked about the issues of interest to four former PeopleSoft Corp. user groups that recently joined the ranks of the OAUG. Oracle acquired PeopleSoft Corp. in a hostile takeover in 2004.
OAUG is kicking off Collaborate '06 by unveiling some new online member forums. Could you tell me a little more about them?
Steven Hughes: The OAUG is a membership-based organization and we do a lot of surveying of our membership on how we can enhance the benefits and resources that we currently offer, as well as constantly gauging the interest [in] some new features, services, resources that we could provide to the user group community. Based upon a recent survey, a best practices repository received overwhelming interest as far as something that OAUG at the time did not offer. So, we are launching two best practice forums. One is an online community called the Oracle Users Best Practice Board (OUBPD) [and it's similar to] a white paper database where users can go in and upload white papers and case studies and on the flipside users can go in and download and learn from other peoples' ideas, tip and tricks. We are launching [the forum] in collaboration with ERP Seminars. We also have formed a partnership with AMR Research Inc. to create a senior level executive best practice peer forum.
What exactly are the differences between the two forums?
Hughes: The difference between the two is that the OUBPB is an open forum for any level of person within an organization. It doesn't matter if you're a general ledger clerk or if you're a CIO, you can share information online through this OAUG community portal. The AMR Peer Research Forum [involves a] self-nomination process. You have to meet certain eligibility requirements such as you have to be at a certain level – a senior level executive – at your company. You also have to have been using the Oracle applications for [at least three years].
Does OAUG have any other new announcements on the horizon?
Hughes: We are launching a new online community for OAUG. That consists of a new Web site which has enhanced features, functionality and so forth to bring together the global community of Oracle applications users as well as bringing together more cohesively the acquired communities that are now part of the Oracle applications community.
What do you think will be the hottest topics of interest at Collaborate '06 from an Oracle business applications perspective?
Steven Hughes: In the applications space the interest and the hot topics are definitely going to be around Fusion applications and also the features and functionality of [the upcoming] Oracle E-Business Suite release 12. There is a lot of interest and a lot of buzz around the Fusion middleware components and they do have an impact on the functionality of the applications as well.
Some industry analysts I've spoken with questioned whether Oracle can deliver its first round of Fusion applications as scheduled in 2008. Are OAUG members confident that Oracle will complete the integration of all its acquisitions and deliver on time?
Hughes: The short answer to that is yes. Oracle is doing a good job and is being well received as far as their updates. Their Halfway-to-Fusion launch that they conducted in January was well attended and the message was that they're on the path. From the conversations that we've been having with [Oracle senior vice president of applications development] John Wookie and senior executives there, there is an ongoing commitment and what I call phase one of these Fusion applications will be delivered on time.
The OAUG recently welcomed a contingent of PeopleSoft user groups into the organization. In talking to those users, what do you think are the major Oracle-related issues that they're concerned about?
Hughes: We have welcomed and integrated into the OAUG a number of these new user communities. PeopleSoft was one of them and amongst the other 14 or 15 acquisitions which Oracle has done they include Retek, ProfitLogic, and now Siebel most recently. We do have an established integration initiative whereby we welcome these users. We quickly begin on working with that user base and educating them on what the OAUG is. The reason I say educate is that most of these communities if not all have never had the experiences and resources of an independent user group.
From a PeopleSoft perspective, I don't think there are any what I would term concerns at this point. I think what everyone is just curious about is, as it relates to Fusion, what [PeopleSoft] features and functionality will be in the iterations of Fusion. If you're a PeopleSoft Enterprise user and you're used to a certain type of workflow within the application, will that workflow stay consistent when it comes to Fusion. That's why we have established the Fusion council, which is actually bringing all of these users together [with Oracle software developers] to exchange those ideas.